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:: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 ::

Geisler Resigns From ETS

Thanks to James White's website, I found out yesterday that Dr. Norman Geisler resigned from the Evangelical Theological Society following the 2003 meeting, departing after more than four decades of membership. I met Dr. Geisler at the 2001 and 2002 annual meetings, and have owned and read his books since 1979. Although he seems like a serious scholar (which he is), he still was willing to help me with a practical joke for a friend of mine. I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Geisler despite our theological differences; White's The Potter's Freedom—a direct response to Geisler's Chosen But Free—was the final nail in my pre-Reformed theological coffin.

So why did Dr. Geisler resign? I mentioned the open theism issue and pending vote regarding Clark Pinnock and John Sanders in an earlier rant around the time ETS gathered. Although the Executive Committee recommended that John Sanders be removed and Pinnock be retained, both men survived the membership challenge. After reading Dr. Geisler's explanation, I'm confident that the vote wasn't the deciding factor for Dr. Geisler. Rather, it was the Executive Committee's refusal to back the challenge against Pinnock, even while ignoring relevant published material. In summary, here are Dr. Geisler's reasons:

1. ETS Has Lost Its Doctrinal Integrity
2. ETS Has Adopted a Revisionist Interpretation of Its Own Doctrine
3. ETS is Now Operating Contrary to Its Own Historic Precedent
4. ETS is Logically Inconsistent with Its Own Doctrinal Basis
5. ETS Acted Inconsistently with Its Long-Standing Journal Policy
6. ETS Has Acted Contrary to Previously Approved Presidential Decisions
7. ETS Refused to Consider Pinnocks (sic) Major Work on the Topic
During private discussions at the 2002 meeting, the point was made that many in ETS lost their stomach for a battle of this nature during the ouster of Dr. Robert Gundry a decade prior. The predication was made that Pinnock and Sanders would survive, albeit in a close vote. This turned out to be prescient, despite the overwhelming evidence that Pinnock's scholarship was at odds with the original position of ETS (see Pinnock quotes collected by Geisler at

I intend to retain my ETS membership since I'm merely an associate, and my departure would cause fewer ripples than Gary Hart contemplating another run for president. I'm curious to see how other equally-principled scholars (I refer here to Dr. Geisler) react, both to the result of the voting, and to Dr. Geisler's departure.

:: Randy Brandt :: Comments ::